Sieve Experiments

My soil sieve arrived unexpectedly early so I took advantage of the sunny weather to experiment outside and see what I could come up with. I started with some of the contents of a leftover bag of limestone screenings with thoughts of producing my own ballast. (When it’s not cinders, ballast in southern Ontario is usually limestone.)

The sieve came with three different meshes: 1mm, 3mm, and 5 mm. 1mm is about 2 O scale inches so about right for ballast. Or that was the theory, anyway. What I failed to account for was all the smaller bits and outright dust that also passes through that mesh. What I got was good “dirt” material but not ballast.

I then hunted around the house for something with a finer mesh. I was partially successful in that I found a bit of plastic screening but it looks to be about the same as the 1mm. I tried sandwhiching it between two of the screens and did get some “ballast”. I think it looks darn good but the amount produces is such a low ratio to the total material processed that I could not reasonably produce enough to do even a small layout such as Comstock Road.

Not to be discourages, I decided to use the “dirt” as a first texture layer on the foreground test scene. It is undeniably an improvement over brown paint.

Next I need to round up a suitable brush for stippling on glue and shoot some grass on this thing.

4 thoughts on “Sieve Experiments”

  1. Hi Mark,

    To remove the dust without sieving, you can wash the stones with plain and simple water: the really small dross will get picked up by the surface tension. You could collect that with some fine mesh such as an old cotton handkerchief acting as a strain, or just let it go.

    Ideally, though, you need a sieve with say a 0.8mm (1/32”) mesh: anything which passes through this is too small. Anything not passing through the 1mm is too big… search for 800 micron mesh on the net: it may surprise you.

    But if this is a yard, would it well ballasted anyway?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Second attempt at a reply. WP seems to have ate the first.
      The GECO spur served some major industries in my time period including an auto assembly plant. It would still have been well maintained with clean ballast, at least on the main tracks. I do plan to include at least some weedy bits though.

      Liked by 1 person

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